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Yamamoto Gonnohyōe

In office
20 February 1913 – 16 April 1914
Monarch Taishō
Preceded by Tarō Katsura
Succeeded by Shigenobu Ōkuma
In office
2 September 1923 – 7 January 1924
Monarch Hirohito (Regent)
Preceded by Kosai Uchida (Acting)
Succeeded by Keigo Kiyoura

Born 26 November 1852(1852-11-26)
Kagoshima, Ryūkyū, Tokugawa
Died 8 December 1933 (aged 81)
Political party Independent
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service 1879–1928
Rank Admiral
Battles/wars Boshin War
First Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
Awards Order of the Chrysanthemum (Collar and Grand Cordon)
Order of the Golden Kite (1st class)
Order of St Michael and St George (Honourary Knight Grand Cross)
In this Japanese name, the family name is Yamamoto.

Admiral Count Yamamoto Gonbee, GCMG (山本権兵衛 Yamamoto Gonbee/Gonnohyōe ?, 26 November 1852–8 December 1933), also called Gonnohyōe[1], was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and the 16th (20 February 1913–16 April 1914) and 22nd (2 September 1923–7 January 1924) Prime Minister of Japan.


Early life

Yamamoto was born in Kagoshima in Satsuma Province (now Kagoshima Prefecture) as the son of samurai who served the Shimazu clan. As a youth, he took part in the Anglo-Satsuma War. He later joined Satsuma's Eighth Rifle Troop; in the Boshin War that ended the Tokugawa shogunate, fighting at the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and other locations; he was also aboard one of the ships that pursued Enomoto Takeaki to Hokkaidō in 1869.

Naval career

After the success of the Meiji Restoration, Yamamoto attended preparatory schools in Tokyo, entering the 2nd class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1870. After graduation in 1874, he went on a training cruise to Europe and South America aboard Imperial German Navy vessels from 1877-78, and as junior officer acquired much sea experience. He wrote a gunnery manual that became the standard for the Imperial Japanese Navy and served as executive officer of the cruiser Naniwa on its shakedown voyage from Elswick to Japan (1885-86). Afterwards, he accompanied Navy Minister Kabayama Sukenori on a trip to the United States and Europe (1887-88).

As commander of the cruiser Takao, undertook a confidential mission to meet Qing General Yuan Shikai in Seoul, Korea (1890). Afterwards, he assumed command of the Takachiho.

Working under his patron, Navy Minister Saigō Tsugumichi from 1893, Yamamoto became the real leader of the navy; initiating numerous reforms, attempting to end favoritism toward officers of his own Satsuma province, attempting to end officers from profiteering from military office, and attempting to attain roughly equal status with the army in the Supreme War Council. He also pushed for an aggressive strategy toward China in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95).

Japanese Minister of the Navy, Admiral Baron Yamamoto visiting the captured city of Dalny, just north of Port Arthur in December 1904. Accompanying the Minister were several Western observers, including Italian naval attaché Ernesto Burzagli who photographed the inspection tour.
Battlefields in the Russo-Japanese War.

Yamamoto's subsequent rise through the ranks was rapid: rear admiral (1895); vice admiral and Navy Minister (1898). He was raised to the rank of danshaku (baron) under the kazoku peerage system in 1902; and he was promoted to the rank of admiral in 1904.

As Minister of the Navy during the Russo-Japanese War, Yamamoto showed strong leadership and was responsible for appointing Tōgō Heihachirō as commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet. He gave voice to Tōgō's reports when he read his aloud his reports from the war to the assembled Diet.[2]

Yamamoto was elevated to hakushaku (count) in 1907.

Count Yamamoto served as Prime Minister in 1913-14.

As Prime Minister

During Yamamoto's first term as the prime minister, he abolished the rule that both the Navy Minister and Army Minister had to be active duty officers, and he had a reputation for being a liberal and a supporter of public claims for democracy and constitutional government. However, his administration was plagued by charges of corruption; and he was forced to resign with his entire cabinet to take responsibility for the Siemens-Vickers Naval Armaments scandal. He was never proven to have been involved personally.

Admiral Count Yamamoto was transferred to naval reserve in 1914.

Count Yamamoto was recalled to government as Prime Minister again in the emergency crisis "earthquake cabinet" (1923-24) following the Great Kantō Earthquake. He showed leadership in the restoration of Tokyo which had been heavily damaged by the earthquake. He also attempted to reform the electoral system to permit universal male suffrage. However, he and his cabinet resigned again in January 1924, this time over the attempt by Namba Daisuke to assassinate Prince Regent Hirohito on 27 December 1923 (the Toranomon Incident).

Subsequently, Yamamoto withdrew from political life completely.


Shortly before his death in 1933, he was awarded the Collar & Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the highest possible award in the Japanese honors system. In addition, he received the following:


  1. ^ The name Gonnohyōe was originally invented by a Shinto priest during a prayers at a ship launching ceremony which Yamamoto attended; he liked the profound sound of the name so much that he adopted it thereafter.
  2. ^ "Article 6 -- no title," New York Times. March 30, 1904.
  3. ^ London Gazette: on the occasion of Prince Fushimi Sadanaru's visit to England


  • Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). Encyclopedia of Military Biography. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 1-85043-569-3.  
  • Schencking, J. Charles (2005). Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4977-9.  
  • Sims, Richard (2005). Japanese Political History Since the Meiji Renovation 1868-2000. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23915-7.  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Tsugumichi Saigō
Minister of the Navy
Succeeded by
Makoto Saitō
Preceded by
Tarō Katsura
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Shigenobu Ōkuma
Preceded by
Kosai Uchida
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ijuin Hikokichi
Preceded by
Kosai Uchida
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Keigo Kiyoura


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